Bob Zellner remembers John Lewis

Local News

Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Tributes for Georgia Congressman John Lewis are coming from across the nation and from here on the Gulf Coast. A friend and fellow civil rights activist who lives in Fairhope has known and worked with Lewis for sixty years.

Bob Zellner remembers the last time he saw Lewis–during the remembrance of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Selma this past March.

“We basically gathered together in Montgomery and in Selma just about every year,” said Zellner.

The Selma to Montgomery March was aimed at raising awareness for a national voting rights act. Now there are calls to rename the Edmund Pettus bridge in honor of John Lewis. Zellner says he has a better idea.

“At least it’s not as good an idea as all of the people enthusiastic about renaming the bridge would be enthusiastic about restoring the Voting Rights Act which that bridge is famous for and John Lewis is famous for,” he said.

Seven years ago the U.S. Supreme Court struct down the guts of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of racial discrimination to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department to make election changes.

Zellner says he believes Lewis’ lasting legacy is remaining young, pointing out he spoke for young people as one of the youngest speakers at the 1963 March of Washington.

“His greatest legacy is what he told us–and that was to keep on keeping on and get in good trouble, necessary trouble–we’re going to try to keep doing that, and it’s easy to do in Alabama–to get in trouble,” said Zellner.

Lewis is also portrayed in a new movie about Zellner’s life. “Son of the South” is expected to be released later this year. The ending of the movie is now being re-cut, dedicating it to John Lewis.

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